03 October 2012

ZInn: The Founding Fathers

After the Revolutionary War, the new Constitution of the United States was drafted by fifty-five men who were mostly wealthy slave owners, lawyers, merchants, bondholders, and men of property. Their guiding philosophy was that of Alexander Hamilton, "All communities divide themselves into the few and the many. The first are the rich and well-born, the other the mass of the people. Give therefore to the first class a distinct permanent share in the government."

The Constitution set up a government that the rich could depend on to protect their property. The phrase "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness," which appeared in the Declaration of Independence, was dropped when the Constitution adopted, and the new phrase, which became part of the Fifth Amendment and later the Fourteenth Amendment, was "life, liberty, or property."

The great fortunes of the first modern millionaires depended on the generosity of governments. In British colonies of North America, how did certain men obtain millions of acres of land? Certainly not by their own hard work, but by government grants.

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